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7/8/2004
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The Law Itself

You may not think so, but California's Notice of Security Breach law just may apply to you.

Don't have business operations in California and think that lets you off the hook? Think again. If you maintain unencrypted personal information about a California resident, the Notice of Security Breach law may apply. Talk to your privacy counsel and your database managers. And if it could potentially apply, make sure your IT, legal, and risk-management managers know about it and are aware of the need to comply in the event of a security breach. The time to work on a form letter is before any breach occurs. The best thing that can happen is that the letter is never needed.

Joanne McNabb, chief of California's Office of Privacy Protection, suggests that all notices be drafted by the company's marketing or communications staff, not the legal staff. But the lawyers should look them over. It might be a good idea to include a link to the Office of Privacy Protection's guide for consumers on what to do if they receive an alert. Balancing the notice with keeping your consumers from panicking unnecessarily is key to surviving with your reputation in tact.

But the devil is in the details. Knowing when to give notice, as well as how and why to do so, is crucial and not as obvious from the face of the law as you might expect. This is not a good time to use self-help. Call in the professionals.

To see the full text of the law, click here.

Return to main story: "What You Don't Know About Privacy Can Hurt You"

Continue to the sidebar: "Five Laws You Should Know"

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